Sulphur Aeon
Gateway to the Antisphere

Back in  2013, Germany’s Sulphur Aeon made quite a splash with their debut  Swallowed By The Ocean’s Tide. And rightly so, being a crumbling, cavernous, but memorable sonic monument to Lovecraftian horrors. And yet here we are two years later, and the follow up seems to have been, well… swallowed up.

I’m not sure I can remember a follow-up to such a critically-acclaimed album get so little buzz or hype, but having owned the album since it came out, I can see why. First off, Gateway to the Antisphere has been crushed by the weight of its predecessor. Second, it’s not nearly as an immediate album. Where Swallowed… mixed some very subtle melodies into the churning Maveth/Immolation/Vorum sound, Gateway… seems to be going for a much more purely dissonant and discordant palette, almost forcibly so, reaching almost-Abyssal levels of claustrophobic noise.

Everything else is in place though, from the stellar artwork (this thing comes in a GORGEOUS package), the crumbling yet crisp guitar tone, cavernous vocals, and Lovecraftian themes and lyrics. But something is missing, and it’s that something that made the debut so good. Sure, there are oodles of those twisty, murky riffs and a few very impressive lurches, such as the closing of “Devotion to the Cosmic Chaos” or “Calls from Below.” These are staples of the style and sound, and here offer an even murkier, frothing miasma, but it’s far from the attention-grabber that the debut was.

BUT…… Gateway to the Antisphere is the very definition of a grower. It takes a while to truly click, as here we are in July and I’m just now starting to really feel the album’s horrific, moist clutches. “Diluvial Ascension – Gateway to the Antisphere”, “He is the Gate” and the monstrous “Seventy Steps” eventually sucked me in and pulled me under the surface. The pure vortices of “Onwards to Kadath” and “Abysshex,”  and a couple of atmospheric bookends keep the album’s pacing from getting too mired in huge churning dissonance, but still I can’t help but think there is just something missing from the overall body of the album. Still, as the year wears on, I can see Gateway slithering up my year-end list as its layers unfurl and continue to seep into my nightmares.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
July 27th, 2015

Comments

  1. Commented by: PoopNuggs

    I have to agree to disagree here, I think this album is superior to Swallowed by the Ocean’s Tide. I found it more immediate and hooky with several riffs stuck in my head after listening, in fact I couldn’t get this bad boy outta my rotation for months. I also thought the production here is ever so slightly more clear than the debut, in which I found a lot of the riffs were buried somewhat. I do definitely agree about it being more chaotic and dissonant, but with some melodic garnishes to stave off monotony. Anyways, an excellent write up as always and I’m glad its growing on you! “He is the Gate” is my jam.


  2. Commented by: E. Thomas

    Poopnuggs- what do you think you are doing? how dare you formulate a well written constructive criticism of a review voicing your opinion intelligently and supported with well thought out discussion. Thats not how its done.

    Thanks for reading!


  3. Commented by: PoopNuggs

    I know I’m a stinker aren’t I?


  4. Commented by: Brad

    I also can’t get this album out of rotation. I haven’t listened to the debut album so that may color my interpretation of Gateway, but I definitely find it filled with hooks and memorable passages. I’ve listened to it quite a bit, and listened to it again after reading this review, and I just don’t hear a “dissonant and discordant palette.” Nearly every song seems to have memorable hooks and passages. I guess when I think “dissonant and discordant,” I think passages from Wormed’s albums or the swirling noise mush in Grave Miasma’s acclaimed last album.

    To each his own. I love this album.


  5. Commented by: E. Thomas

    Will you guys please stop with this civil, intelligent commenting, I dont know how to handle it….


  6. Commented by: Zach

    This album is stellar!


  7. Commented by: Luke_22

    I agree with this being a real grower and I’ve only recently been(finally)getting my head around it. It’s a very well written and colossal album which is particularly powerful and immersive when listening with good headphones. And the production is huge. Great stuff.


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